A local radio personality, @thedalejackson, tweeted a question: why are Democrats thrilled about Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy for US Senate. Are you kidding me? While I have not learned about all her positions, she sounds like a Democrat for me. In July she stated the preposterous:
“We’re not here to serve banks. We’re not here to serve Wall Street. We’re not here,” she emphasizes that last bit, “to serve Congress. We’re here to serve American families.“
In her announcement speech, I liked what I heard and I think the people of Alabama would agree. She contended that working families have been
chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don’t think Washington gets it.
Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists . . .A big company like GE pays nothing in taxes and we’re asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education, we’re telling seniors they may have to learn to live on less. It isn’t right, and it’s the reason I’m running for the U.S. Senate.
We have a chance to put Washington on the side of families.
This isn’t just campaign rhetoric. Listen to these answers from an interview with Newsweek this summer before she was a candidate,
Q: Congress is trying to reform financial regulation, and it can get a little abstract. Where should people focus?
Warren: To restore some basic sanity to the financial system, we need two central changes: fix broken consumer-credit markets and end guarantees for the big players that threaten our entire economic system. If we get those two key parts right, we can still dial the rest of the regulation up and down as needed. But if we don’t get those two right, I think the game is over. I hate to sound alarmist, but that’s how I feel about this.
Q: Should the government step in and break up the biggest banks?
Warren: There are a lot of ways to regulate “too big to fail” financial institutions: break them up, regulate them more closely, tax them more aggressively, insure them, and so on. And I’m totally in favor of increased regulatory scrutiny of these banks. But those are all regulatory tools. Regulations, over time, fail. I want to see Congress focus more on a credible system for liquidating the banks that are considered too big to fail. The little guys aren’t immortal; they pay for their mistakes. The big guys can’t be immortal either. A free market cannot operate in a too-big-to-fail world.
Q: Why are people so angry about the government’s efforts to save the economy?
Warren: Many Americans want to know if the people in Washington are on their side or on the side of the powerful banks. There should never be a doubt about the point of any government action: it should always be to help families directly, or help markets in ways that help families. If that isn’t clear, I think the action is wrong, or the description of the action is wrong.
Q: The administration has been reluctant to pressure the banks because they say they need the financial system’s cooperation in their recovery policies.
Warren: The notion that we need to ask the permission of the big banks about which approach to use is just wrong. Who’s asking the American family which provisions are OK with them? I understand that we need to get the economy back on an even keel, and destroying large financial institutions isn’t going to do that, but neither is destroying the American middle class. We need to be asking, what are the best tools to repair the economy? Not, what are the tools most acceptable to the big banks?
Politics is to supposed serve families? Too-big-to-fail-banks should be broken up? Policy-makers should not craft policy to please Big Finance and Corporations? Guiding the marketplace to help families?
Can you imagine her on the same committee with Sen. Richard Shelby? Remember: Shelby blocked her nomination to the CFPB accusing her of leading a “regulatory shakedown” of the mortgage servicers.
Conservatives see something in her as well which confirms for me that her ideas and advocacy can receive a welcomed response even in conservative, red states like Alabama. Consider this from the American Conservative magazine yesterday:
I don’t know where she stands on social issues, but as a Harvard professor, I’m sure it’s well to the left of where I stand. But I’m tired of seeing my support for social conservatism dictate my vote for candidates who, in my view, work to undermine the stability of families by taking the sides of powerful financial interests. If Elizabeth Warren were a standard-issue Democrat, I wouldn’t give a fig for her candidacy. But she proved by her frustrated service in Washington that she can be an authentic populist. Why isn’t the Republican Party producing people like her: candidates who take clear and unambiguous stands against the bigness of banks, regulatory capture, and in favor of Main Street over Wall Street?
Even the ultra-partisan The Weekly Standard concluded:
But she understood the finance crisis better, she was the first to see it coming, and she did so by the simple means of listening to the American middle class. That is not nothing.
What do we, Alabama Democrats, fight for?
Warren remarked offhand today: “I’m willing to throw my body in front of the bus to stop bad ideas” Are Alabama Democrats? Justice Kennedy wanted a slogan for Alabama Democats. Warren provided it in her announcement: Putting Montgomery on the side of families; a politics as if families mattered.